It has been nine long years since Fates Warning's last release. With members active in many side projects, there was a belief that the band was done. Founding member and lone original member Jim Matheos formed a new band with former vocalist John Arch in 2011 and released the critically acclaimed album Sympathetic Resonance as Arch/Matheos in 2011. Current vocalist Ray Alder has also found success with progressive metal band Redemption.
All of the elements are present throughout the release. The band flawlessly glides back and forth between complex progressive time signatures and straightforward crushing riffs. The musicianship is highly executed, as one would expect. Alder’s voice might not have the top range he once was able to channel, but he makes up with it through his memorable melodies and heartfelt performance.
Following the same style and direction that started with 2000s Disconnected, the record opens with the mammoth “One Thousand Fires.” A fast picked guitar part roars out of the gates blasting into an odd time signature. The chorus is gigantic as Alder bellows out the melody with a ton of force. The song is cemented with a blazing guitar solo from Matheos where the band breaks into a straightforward groove induced breakdown.
The album's centerpiece is the fourteen-minute plus “And Yet It Moves.” Swiftly gliding through an album's worth of riffs, the track is a tour de force. The first nine minutes is a culmination of heavy thick riffs that gives way to an acoustic movement that morphs into a completely different vibe, and once again finds Alder shining.
The acoustic interlude “Falling” is the perfect segue between the progressive heavier material with its gorgeous and haunting melodies. Alder is at his best when he shows a vulnerable side to his vocals, as one can hear the emotion seeping through the speakers.
The addition of Bobby Jarzombek on the drums cannot be emphasized enough. Replacing longtime drummer Mark Zonder, he shows a completely different side of his ability that he hasn’t been able to showcase in his previous bands. His footwork and execution of fills becomes a focus for the listener in every song.
The fact that both the latest Fates Warning release and Arch/Matheos record features the exact same lineup except for the singers is a testament to the talent and songwriting ability of the musicians.
Both records are equally impressive and feature mind-blowing talent. It just feels natural that both singers are creating music with the phenomenon that is Jim Matheos. While not a career defining album, Darkness in a Different Light is another notch in a long list of accomplishments for Fates Warning.
(Released October 1, 2013 on Inside Out Music)